Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Survived Black Friday

I survived Black Friday, did you?

No, I didn't go out in the middle of the night to fight the horde. I went to work. My job as an Administrative Assistant, is to set up the break room and monitor meal breaks for our employees on Black Friday. Each one is given a 20 minute break, on company time. Isn't that fabulous?

The problem is there are so many of us on Black Fridays that I'm forced to become the Break Room Bouncer.

Now, I've been called the Terminator, Eliminator, Office Guru, among my many other hats, but only once a year do I get to be the Break Room Bouncer. Woot! It's a touch job, but someones got to do it, right?

While I'm appreciated on many levels for my break room etiquette and prowess (at least I think I am, LOL!), the gang knows I'm timing each one of them as they come back to eat what our boss has graciously ordered and had sent in. (Yes, my wonderful boss orders a fabulous meal for our gang every year. We've had Olive Garden and Dreamland BBQ, two years running. Though I didn't vote for the Banana Pudding this year, bah humbug! For those who don't know it, Dreamland has a spectacular Peach Cobbler and drat! I had been really looking forward to it.)

But I digress, because the one thing I really wanted to talk to you about was surviving Black Friday. We did, thanks to great food and morale. But what I wanted to get at were your ideas on the earlier store openings throughout the nation this year.

Walmart, Target and a few other places like Toys R Us opened between 9 p.m. on Thursday night and 12 a.m. on Friday morning. Our opening hours kicked it up a notch, 30 minutes earlier than scheduled. And the majority of mall stores opened between 5-6 a.m., when just years ago, stores opened at the earliest by 6 a.m.

Now, as a retail employee, my concern for these earlier openings goes to the employees who have to cut their holiday with family short just to man the stations, as it were.

Does this upset you? Have we become a nation set on putting capitalistic gain over the very holidays created to bring our families together?

Black Friday gave our economy a great big boost, just as it does every year. My fear is economists will promote an upswing in our economy that will lead to false comfort on the economic front.

What do you think? Do you shop on Black Friday? Or do you take the time to enjoy your loved ones, perhaps even decorate your Christmas tree ?

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Devil in the Details

I want to like the TV show Hart of Dixie. The basic premise: When a New York City born and bred surgeon is fired for lack of bedside manner, she relocates to a small town in Alabama to practice general medicine in an effort to hone her people skills.

I want to like this show so much that I continue to watch it every week. And there are some things that I do like about it. There are some great characters. There is some serious eye candy. The light plot lines are entertaining.

If only they had a southerner on the writing staff. Or even a consultant.

Here are the problems:

  • They had a heat wave in late October that was so bad they were tripping breakers and running around wringing wet. No. Not in October. Not even in Alabama.
  • The local women dress like it's the 1950's.
  • These same women wear white shoes in the fall.
  • And flowery hats—at night. That wouldn't happen.
  • The Founder's Day parade had a float with Crimson Tide AND a War Eagle on it. The same float. Give me a break.
  • There is a woman old enough to be my mother active in the Junior League. No. No. No. She would be a sustaining member. She would not work on projects, go to meetings, or hold an office.

What makes you want to stand up and scream, "Why can't you get it right?"

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I know everyone is busy with Thanksgiving today so I am just going to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving!

  Here is a bit of Thanksgiving sparkle to enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cranberry Jezebel Sauce

This is one of my absolute favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Really, it's pretty much a staple at my house, but Thanksgiving is the time when I stock up on cranberries and freeze them so we can have it year round. It lasts for months. Not only is it good with turkey, it's great with pork or on a sandwich. Pour it over a block of cream cheese or a wedge of brie for a quick hors d'oeuvre. Or is it an appetizer? Is there a difference? I'm going to look that up, but it's going to have to wait for a day when I'm not trying to make Thanksgiving happen.

From all of us, have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Cranberry Jezebel Sauce

  • 1-Cup Water
  • ½ Cup Sugar
  • ½ Cup packed brown sugar
  • 12 ounces of fresh cranberries
  • 3 Tablespoons horseradish
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

Combine water, sugar, and brown sugar in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add cranberries. Return to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon into a bowl. Let cool to room temperature. Add horseradish and mustard. Mix well. Cover and chill.

Serve with meat, on turkey sandwiches, or pour over Brie or cream cheese and serve with crackers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Reinvent Yourself & Give Thanks

There's a lot of confusion in the world today. If you haven't heard, all you have to do is turn on the news. Politics, the economy, the lost art of patience, dwindling morality and thinly veiled dignity, all play a definitive part in keeping the most humane experiences from reaching the mortal soul. Add the holiday season and a person could become completely undone.

Take the fact that towns across the US have put up holiday decorations way before their time. Holiday music is already playing in stores across the nation as preparations for Black Friday commence. (Shiver me timbers!) Though I work for a retailer, and I know the importance of THE DAY OF DAYS, the crowds, harried customers, and the push by companies for consumers to spend, spend, spend, squeal loudly like a pig trying to maintain its balance on a spinning puzzle piece.

When is enough, enough? Commercials spin the idea that no one will be satisfied unless they receive a car for Christmas. A car? Seriously? In this economy? Have CEOs everywhere lost their minds? If you don't believe me, check out reruns of the American Music Awards and watch JLo's performance. Yes indeedie, the car from her commercials was sharing center stage with her. Was I the only one who thought that was strange?

Does the picture of students getting sprayed with pepper spray just for 'sitting' in protest of increased college tuition ring any bells?

Where does the mania end?

This is nothing new. Long ago, Pilgrims survived a perilous journey across the sea only to be forced into the wilds of a new land with little to sustain them. That they made it through winter came via change, enlisting the aide of a new people, learning better ways to live, and putting those skills into action.

After spending the past two years in pain and the past three months recovering from a surgery that took that pain away, I'm living in a new world, mateys. A clearer world where simple things have become favorite things.

It's amazing how much we take for granted on any given day.

As Thanksgiving approaches, give thanks for what you have because I guarantee you have more than you can possibly imagine if you have good health, people who love you, a roof over your head, food to fill your belly, a machine to get you to and from work, and last but definitely not least, friends to help make each day better than the last.

Change is good. Pilgrims initiated a change that brought this country to life. Are you afraid of change? How can you reinvent yourself?

Live. Laugh. Love.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Images

Just as I have words I love (epiphany, amber, Victrola) for no discernible reason, there are images that made smile every single time.

Among them:

  • An oozing with testosterone man playing the piano
  • A Christmas tree tied to the roof of a car
  • A high school football team running onto the field
  • Snowmen
  • Jack-O-Lanterns
  • Toddler arms reaching up to me.
  • Glitter on anything.
  • Lightening Bugs at twilight
  • Gingerbread boys

This week, my godchildren provided me with images of two major blessings. They will make me smile for all time. And cry a little too.

Baby Girl had a baby boy. Here he is with Little Baby Girl. I think I can get Baby Girl to let me dress him up like a Gingerbread Boy. Yeah.

Precious Angel got an early nomination from West Point. Here he is with his wonderful parents. You may remember them from this blog as Godson's Mom and Godson's Dad. Note he is wearing an Air Force t-shirt. Probably, I will not be allowed to put glitter on that nomination or the leather cover it came in.

What is making you smile these days?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Melanie Dickerson Shares a Recipe

We are very pleased to welcome our friend Melanie Dickerson back to share a recipe with us.

In honor of my new release, The Merchant’s Daughter, and its setting of rural England, I’m going to share my famous scones recipe. Okay, it’s only famous at my church, but still. And you have to eat the scones with the Devonshire Cream and a little bit of strawberry jam, or whatever jam you prefer. Mmmm, yummy. (I know cranberries and pecans aren’t really English, but close your eyes and imagine you’re eating them in a castle in England beside a gorgeous hero with a British accent. That should help you forget.)

Cranberry-Orange Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/4 teas. salt

1/3 cup cold butter or magarine

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 teas. grated orange peel

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. whipping cream, divided

Jam of your choice

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add apricots, pecans and orange peel. With a fork, rapidly stir in 1 cup whipping cream just until moistened. Turn onto a floured surface; knead 5-6 times. Divide in half; shape into a ball. Flatten each ball into a 6-in. circle; cut each circle into eight wedges. Place 1 in. apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush with remaining whipping cream. Bake at 375 degrees for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Devonshire Cream
6 oz. cream cheese, softened

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ cup whipping cream

In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually beat in enough cream to achieve a spreading consistency. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

Note: Amounts are approximate. Add sugar to your own taste. [I always add extra sugar! Enjoy!]

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Melanie Dickerson

We are very excited to have our friend Melanie Dickerson join us under the tulip tree today.

Please join us in welcoming her as she talks about her upcoming book,  The Merchant's Daughter.

Melanie says:
Who doesn’t love a good Beauty and the Beast story?

I’ve always been fascinated with the traditional Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. I even wrote my own short-story version when I was still in high school. I found it last weekend when I was visiting my mother. She made me go through some old boxes of stuff that had been shoved under my bed for the past twen—okay, we won’t say exactly how many years. A lot. Anyway, there was my Beauty and the Beast story, along with a cover letter in an envelope, addressed to a magazine editor. Yep, I was already trying to get published way back then. Too bad I gave up writing right after that, for about fifteen years. Who knows how many books I’d have out right now if I hadn’t quit? Oh well.

As I was saying, Beauty and the Beast has always been a favorite story. I love its themes of inner beauty overcoming the shallowness of external beauty, of character being more important than wealth, and love overcoming evil. And those are some of the themes that surfaced in my version of the story. (I don’t add themes deliberately to my stories. They just seem to show up.)

When I was, ah-hem, quite young, my favorite TV show was Beauty and the Beast, with Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton. And Disney came out with a great version of the story.
I have also read a few novels that are wonderful versions of the story. A great YA version is Beauty by Robin McKinley. In fact, when I read it I didn’t think I would ever be able to write a Beauty and the Beast story because hers was so good. But mine is completely different in that it is strictly a Medieval romance, no magic, just straight historical romance. Beastly by Alex Flinn is a more recent, contemporary version, also now a movie.

So my book is in good company, I guess. I am always interested in how other authors tweak this classic story. I love taking a classic fairy tale, a few of its basic elements, and expanding on them and making my own romantic story out of them.

So, if you read The Merchant’s Daughter, I hope you like it. I would love for you to friend me on facebook,  or visit me on my website ( http://www.melaniedickerson.com/ )  and check out the trailers for both my books, The Healer’s Apprentice and The Merchant’s Daughter. The guy who does my covers did the trailers, and they are wonderful.

For those who are in the area, I’ll be speaking at the Monrovia branch of the Huntsville-Madison Country Library on November 29th at 6:30 p.m. I should also have some copies of my books to sell if you’d like to get autographed copies for gift giving.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of Beauty and the Beast, if you’ve read any good Beauty and the Beast stories, and, if you are a writer, how you deal with themes in your books.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumpkin Three Ways

I'll bet you weren't expecting me today or a recipe. But it's nearly time to gather together and while others are talking turkey, we are going to talk pumpkin. I have no need to talk turkey. I did that last week when I called my favorite barbecue place and ordered a smoked turkey. I can roast turkey. Anyone can. But we like smoked turkey and I do not have have the information, equipment, or inclination to do that. Who I have is The Guy, who will go pick it up for me, while I make dressing and his favorite cranberry Jezebel sauce.

And there is the pumpkin. The Guy loves pumpkin. I won't be making all of these on Thanksgiving, but I have made them all in the last few weeks. None of them require cooking a raw pumpkin. Enjoy!

This is a recent discovery. I took it to my RWA chapter meeting last week to celebrate a member's sale. It was a big hit. Plus, it's so easy that it could be a good Turkey morning breakfast. After all, why not start the day will cake? It's just going to get worse.

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake


  • ⅓ cups Water
  • 1 can Pureed Pumpkin (15 Oz)
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 box Yellow Cake Mix (18 Ounce Box)
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar, Divided
  • ½ cups Flour
  • ⅓ cups Walnuts, Chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
  • ¼ cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ cups Heavy Whipping Cream

Preparation Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl mix together the water, pumpkin, eggs, 1 Tablespoon of vanilla, and spices until well combined. Add the cake mix and baking soda and mix until just combined.

Grease a 9×13 pan with butter and pour batter into pan.

In a small bowl mix together 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, walnuts, and melted butter. Use fingers to sprinkle over the top of the cake. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For the glaze, combine the other 1/2 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir until all sugar is dissolved.

When cake is finished baking, poke holes in the top with a toothpick. Pour glaze over the cake, making sure to cover all surfaces. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.


As I mentioned, The Guy loves pumpkin but pumpkin pie is his absolute favorite. He asks for it instead of cake on his birthday. I make my crust but you don't have too. In fact, I find that this makes too much filling for my pie pans so I always end up with 3 or 4 custard cups of baked filling.

Pumpkin Pie


  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Prebaked and cooled deep-dish pie crust


Preheat an oven to 375ºF.

In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Add the pumpkin, eggs, cream and milk and whisk to combine.

Pour the filling into the prebaked pie crust and bake until the center is set, 60 to 65 minutes, covering the edges of the crust with aluminum foil after 30 minutes if they brown too quickly.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 2 hours, before serving. Serves 10.


I am not going to lie to you. This takes some time and I'd hate to do it without a stand mixer. But it isn't hard and there are those in my life who say this is the best think I make.

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

Makes one 9-inch cake, serving 12 to 16.

  • Crust
  • 5ounces graham crackers (9 whole crackers), broken into large pieces
  • 3tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4teaspoon ground cloves
  • 6tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
  • Filling
  • 1 1/3cups granulated sugar (10 1/3 ounces)
  • 1teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2teaspoon table salt
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
  • 1 1/2pounds cream cheese , cut into 1-inch chunks and left to soften at room temperature, about 30 minutes
  • 1tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 5 large eggs , left at room temperature, about 30 minutes
  • 1cup heavy cream


1. 1. FOR THE CRUST: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Pulse crackers, sugar, and spices in food processor until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle melted butter over, and mix with rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Turn crumbs into prepared springform pan and, using hand, spread crumbs into even layer. Using flat-bottomed ramekin or drinking glass, press crumbs evenly into pan bottom, then use a soup spoon to press and smooth crumbs into edges of pan. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.

2. 2. FOR THE FILLING: Bring about 4 quarts water to simmer in stockpot. Whisk sugar, spices, and salt in small bowl; set aside. To dry pumpkin (see illustrations below): Line baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels. Spread pumpkin on paper towels in roughly even layer. Cover pumpkin with second triple layer of paper towels and press firmly until paper towels are saturated. Peel back top layer of towels and discard. Grasp bottom towels and fold pumpkin in half; peel back towels. Repeat and flip pumpkin onto baking sheet; discard towel.

3. 3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat cream cheese at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl well with rubber spatula. Add about one third of sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape bowl and add remaining sugar in two additions, scraping bowl after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add 3 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape bottom and sides of bowl and give final stir by hand.

4. 4. Set springform pan with cooled crust on 18-inch-square doubled layer heavy-duty foil and wrap bottom and sides with foil; set wrapped springform pan in roasting pan. Pour filling into springform pan and smooth surface; set roasting pan in oven and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of springform pan. Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when pan is shaken, and center of cake registers 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours (see note). Set roasting pan on wire rack and use paring knife to loosen cake from sides of pan. Cool until water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove springform pan from water bath, discard foil, and set on wire rack; continue to cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

5. 5. TO SERVE: Slide thin metal spatula between crust and pan bottom to loosen, then slide cake onto serving platter. Let cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Veteran's Day = Good Things

I'm feeling grateful these days for the good things in my life, especially after just returning from a visit with my son and his family. There's nothing like spending time with family to rejuvenate the soul, is there?

This visit was extra special. #1 is going to be deploying again the end of the month and won't be able to spend time with his family or with us during the holidays. I can't begin to count how many holidays he's missed or describe the feeling a serviceman/woman must experience being so far from home on these special occasions. I do know that by not having our oldest son and his family around for Christmas or New Year's and further into the new year, I'm reminded of all the holidays LTC couldn't be home. While those days are behind us, the memory of chaotic days raising four children alone and the never-ending lonely nights never fades.

As America recently celebrated Veteran's Day, I want to shout out how proud I am of the sacrifices given by the men and women of the United States. Men like my Great Uncles (WWII Coast Guard, Army, & Navy), my Grandpa (WWII Navy), FIL (3 years Army), father (Career Army & Vietnam Veteran), brother (3 years Army), nephew (Texas National Guard 7 years, 2 term Iraq Veteran & 2 term Border Patrol Veteran), LTC (West Point Grad & Career Army), #1 (8 years Air Force, Persian Gulf Veteran & Libya Veteran), #3 (1 year Army), and future-SIL (2 years Marines & Afghanistan War Veteran).

Secondly, there can be no sacrifice without families. Families are the backbone of the military. Without the love, trust, support and compassion of the ones that love our heroes, our Army, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines, Air Force and National Guard would be hard-tasked to do their jobs.

I've heard it said that a soldier/airman/marine/sailor does not fight for what's to come, but what they've left behind. As my son deploys again, I'm thankful that he's ensuring someone else's child can come home.

It is not what we stand to lose, but what we stand to gain by teaching children how to fly.

Are you a family member of someone in military service? Did you celebrate the military service of anyone in particular over Veteran's Day?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Character Measured in Towels

Trent Richardson is the best running back in college football. People who know more than I do about the game say that's true. (Even if this was only my opinion, I could say it here because this is my blog and soapbox/ego trip.)

There's a lot of talk about Richardson's triple digits yards rushing, the touchdowns he scores, and how he can move an entire pile of opposing defensive linemen before being brought down. Those things are enough to make him special in the world of football, but nobody talks much about his character.

In a world where spoiled rotten brats who believe their own press often reign supreme, it is heartening to see a man of such moral fiber succeed. Though he came from less than ideal circumstances and fathered two children while still in high school, he has committed himself to building a bright future for his children. He has a 3.26 GPA in business and his work ethic is legend among his teammates. They say he works every day like he is trying to earn a spot on the team. What's more, last summer when it became clear to that his younger brother needed guidance, Richardson brought the high school student to live with him. By all accounts the young man is doing well.

While these things are more valuable than any action on any football field, I saw his character in action on the sidelines near the end of the Alabama-Mississippi State game.

Richardson's backup, Eddie Lacy, who has had his share of the spotlight, ran for a 32 yard touchdown—his second of the day. Afterward, Richardson ran to him and wiped his face with a towel, smiling with unmistakable joy.

I don't believe he was thinking of Heisman trophies, or the statistics that Lacy had just piled up that might have been his own. I think he was celebrating the accomplishment of a fellow teammate. And that makes all the difference in a good player and a great one.

How do you define character?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Great Cookie Recipe from Debbie

A household favorite here is peanut butter cookies.  I love this recipe because of its simplicity.  Just like their parents, my grandchildren love putting the fork marks in before we bake, so it makes for some fun memories.  This recipe doubles and triples easily.  I hope you love them as much as we do!

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies
½ C. peanut butter (sweetened or unsweetened)
1 C. white sugar¼ C. plus
2T. very hot, not boiling water
1 ½ C. Pioneer Baking Mix (or Bisquick)

Put peanut butter, sugar, and hot water into bowl and stir till well-blended.  Stir in baking mix until blended.  Do not beat.   Roll into small balls, place on ungreased cookie sheet and press crosshatch marks with forks to flatten.  Bake at 350 degrees in a pre-heated oven for 9-12 minutes until done.  Cool and store in covered container.  


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Debbie Kaufman

Please, join us as we welcome our friend Debbie Kaufman here under the tulip tree.  For those of you who don't know Debbie, here is a bit of background information.

Debbie Kaufman has always found a good book to be a great escape.  Years ago she failed to heed her mother’s advice when told to get her nose out of a book.  Instead, she parlayed her reading addiction into writing award-winning fiction.  Originally a Kentucky girl, Debbie now lives in Georgia with her own romance hero, her husband of over thirty years.  Her first novel is a Love Inspired Historical titled The Doctor’s Mission (Nov. 2011).

Debbie writes:
How do you write a missionary romance without readers ending up with 288 pages of a sermon? That was the question facing me when I wrote The Doctor’s Mission, a November release from Love Inspired Historical books. Because, when it comes to preaching, I prefer my sermons on Sundays at church—not in the books I read for pleasure.

The conclusion I came to was that you still write people. After all, if your hero was an architect, it wouldn’t be necessary to teach readers how to design a house or a convention center. So why does a missionary have to preach on the page?

He doesn’t! It doesn’t mean faith issues are absent completely, but you keep them in the context of the story and the character’s issues. And Pastor William Mayweather and Dr. Mary O’Hara do have their issues…

She squared her shoulders and tilted her chin higher than her five-foot four inches normally allowed her to see. “The Mission Board sent letters. Weren’t you informed of the impending arrival of Mrs. Smith and myself?”

His eyes flashed disbelief and despite his polite tone, she could see the resolve of his answer in the set of his jaw. “I was indeed informed of the arrival of two new mission workers, Miss O’Hara, one a physician. I just did not expect the Board to send women because of the deadly history of the jungle interior. I’m afraid you’ve been sent to the wrong place. I simply cannot take someone so delicate and unsuitable for the dangers to the compound at Nynabo.”

Unsuitable? She wanted to laugh at the irony of being found lacking after having just left a front line mobile field hospital for this man’s dangerous jungle. She took a deep breath to steady her voice. It wouldn’t do to sound shrill and create a negative opinion of herself. She needed this position; was, in fact, desperate for it.

“Obviously, Pastor Mayweather, we are both surprised to find someone whom we did not expect. But I assure you that while your opinion is no different than most other men in society, ones who do not carry Bibles at their ready, it is entirely unwarranted.”

As you can see, inspirationals may not be known for their explicitness, but they don’t have to pull their punches when it comes to conflict. And they don’t need to banter scripture in their dialogue.

Have you ever read an inspirational novel? If not, what’s stopped you from picking one up? If so, did you like it? Why or why not? Hey, go for honest here people! I love hearing about and understanding other people’s viewpoints. Besides, leaving a comment gets you entered into a random drawing for a copy of The Doctor’s Mission!

For more about Debbie and The Doctor’s Mission, check out her website: www.debbiekaufman.com or follow her on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/debbiekaufmanfanpage or Twitter, www.twitter.com/debbie_kaufman

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Computer for My Parents or How I made a BIG MISTAKE!

I probably made the biggest mistake in my entire life last weekend and I thought I would share it with you. I decided to purchase a home computer for my parents. It is to be a Christmas present. Now, at seventy-four and seventy-five, they have never owned a computer and have never seen the Internet. My mom gets exasperated when people ask her for her e-mail address, explaining to them that she doesn’t have time for such nonsense and that the world will one day be very sorry when all this “electronic mess” goes down the toilet. My father just smiles and nods; he knows better than to have an opinion. It is for him that I purchased the computer because he has said time and time again that he would like to surf the Internet. I am more than positive that my mother will also send e-mails, something I am sure I will regret for years to come.

So Saturday, I enlisted the help of my computer-savvy husband along with my sister, not so computer savvy. She and I are of the same opinion: machines hate us and we return the favor. Our destination was Best Buy because I wanted to purchase it from a place where my parents could go and ask questions if they had a problem (for this I shall probably be banned from Best Buy once my parents get their computer). The first decision was whether to purchase a laptop or a regular home computer. My husband said that a regular computer would be fine to start with because he really didn’t want to get into the business of explaining WiFi to my parents. The best idea would be to keep them chained to one spot and not allow them to wander all over the country with a laptop.

We settled on a nice computer and then got a salesgirl to come help us. She went back and looked up the computer – nope, not in stock, there were none in the warehouse and there would be no hope of getting one before Christmas. I started to ask then why is it out on the display but my husband said we would just get another one. We went through three different computers before she finally said we would be able to get it before Christmas. This did not bode well. The computer gods were already mocking us. We purchased extra software, a year of Geek Squad help and some other sundries for the computer. Then we went to wait in line, for thirty minutes, to pay for the blasted thing. By then I was so cranky I just wanted to leave. I had to endure listening a nerdy Aussie behind me complain about Americans and how slow we were. I couldn’t take it any more and told him that if he was so fast how about practicing it and getting the H*LL back to Australia. He went to another line. This computer business is going to get me banned in other places as well. I never did want to travel to Australia; they have those awful small-eyed brown snakes…

The computer is supposed to come in next week and we are going down to set it up for my parents. They live about two hundred miles from me. However, I can’t be running down there to fix whatever problem they have with it once we have it installed (Thank you God!). Yes, I called my mom to tell her what we had done so it’s not a surprise and, though, she was pleased with the “nice present,” she couldn’t possibly get a space cleared for the computer this week. Her garden club was coming for tea and she just did not have the time. Then she started complaining about: the logistics of getting Internet set up; that my father would waste all his time on it; that no one better expect her to spend a lot of time e-mailing; that other old women might send her pictures and stuff but she didn’t want That to start; yada, yada, yada… By the time I got off of my cell phone, my blessed sister was rolling with laughter in the back seat. If we hadn’t been travelling at sixty-five miles per hour, there would have been a sister fight, complete with hair pulling.

So here I sit, waiting for the computer to come in – kind of like waiting for Doomsday. What was I thinking? I have been having nightmares about hours of conversation trying to explain the workings of the mouse. Good thing I bought the tech support from the Geek Squad. They will rue the day they ever got interested in computers when my mother gets a hold of them…

Have you ever started off doing something that you thought was a nice gesture only to discover that maybe you made a big mistake? Let me hear your story.

Monday, November 7, 2011

She Walks Around Town With a Suitcase in Her Hand

Every town has a Delta Dawn. (You remember. "She's forty-one and he daddy still calls her 'baby'. All the folks around Brownsville say she's crazy." Etc., etc., etc.)

Well. Crazy is a relative term and used often when eccentric would do better. Having never spoken to Delta Dawn, nor being a trained professional in such matters, I can't speak to her case, but I have my opinions. I'm sure that comes as shock to everyone.

It wasn't enough for my town to have a Delta Dawn We had three, though I am pretty sure that by the time I took notice of them, they were a good bit older than forty-one and their daddy was long dead. They didn't look enough alike to be triplets but they were almost certainly stair step sisters.

They were tall and thin, and roamed around on foot wearing mid-calf length shirtwaist dresses and turned down white socks with canvas tennis shoes. (This was before the nineties, when it became the Muffy Matron thing to do to wear white Keds with summer cotton Laura Ashley dresses.) Their hair—mostly gray—curled at the tops of their shoulders and was held back with cloth stretchy headbands, though sometimes they wore French twists. Usually, they carried plastic flowered umbrellas to keep the sun off them. I once saw them carrying stacks of boxed Madame Alexander dolls. What was up with that? I wondered a little, but not much. Not enough to ever even discuss it with anyone I knew. I was busy dating, running the streets with my friends, then dating seriously, planning a wedding, and buying Keds and Laura Ashley dresses. Who had time?

I only remember having one conversation about them with anyone. I was in the checkout line of my little neighborhood grocery store and they were in front of me, each buying a stack of magazines.

After they had gone, I said to the clerk, "Do you know who they are? I've seen them all over town forever."

She said, "No, but they come in every month and buy the new Vogue, Mademoiselle, and Glamour. They all get a copy of each one."

"Why don't they just get one and share?" I asked her. That's a fault of mine. I ask people questions I know good and well they don't know the answers to. I can't help it. I keep thinking I might get lucky. And really, wasn't the bigger question why fashion magazines? I guess it made as much sense as Madame Alexander dolls.

It's been a long time since I've seen these women, a long time since I've thought about them. I'm not sure what made me think about them today. But I sure wish I knew their story. I'm going to ask around. I'll get back to you.

Whose story would you like to know?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Rhonda Nelson's Yummy Portuguese Bread

I bet this bread would be great to eat while snuggled up on the couch with a cup of tea while reading Rhonda's newest release, THE SUVIVOR.  The heat from the book would probably keep your bread and tea warm!

Rhonda writes:
Because the weather has turned cooler and nothing says fall like the smell of homemade bread cooking, I thought I’d share this recipe with y’all today. I made this myself over the weekend and it turned out so well I’ll definitely be making it again. It’s a very tasty, sturdy bread, which slices well and, as I discovered on Sunday morning, makes excellent French toast. This recipe is for a bread machine because the other way is too intimidating for me. Also, I don’t like to get my hands sticky and flour-y. *shudders* If you don’t have a bread machine, then I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I have no idea how to tell you to make it the way they did in the olden days, before bread machines. (Jean might have a suggestion, though.) Have a good weekend!

Portuguese Sweet Bread


• 1 cup milk

• 1 egg

• 2 tablespoons margarine

• 1/3 cup white sugar

• 3/4 teaspoon salt

• 3 cups bread flour

• 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast


1.) Add ingredients in order suggested by your manufacturer.

2.) Select "sweet bread" setting.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rhonda Nelson Confesses

Please join us in welcoming Rhonda Nelson to our blog as she shares about her moral struggles and her  latest Blaze release, THE SURVIVOR.  Rhonda is giving away two copies of her book to lucky commenters tomorrow so please sure to comment to day, keep your fingers crossed, and check back tomorrow to see if you are one of the lucky winners!

Rhonda has also supplied a yummy recipe for tomorrow so be sure to come back and visit with us.

A Confession…

Y’all, I have something to tell you and I’m not proud of it.

For the most part, I think I’m an easy-going, kind-hearted and generous person. I’m quick to share my time, to take a meal when others are sick, to offer a word of encouragement. I donate to various charities, can’t walk past the Salvation Army buckets at Christmastime without feeling guilty, even if I’ve already given that day. According to the abbreviated version of the Myers-Brigg’s test my personality type is called “The Nurturer.”

Given that, one would think that I wouldn’t be stingy about anything, right? And yet, I am, y’all. When it comes to one thing, I completely lose my cool and any sense of sharing, even with those I love, those I care about.
And you know what that thing is? It’s…French Fries.

*hangs head in shame*

Yes, you read that right. It’s French Fries. I would gladly give the shoes off my feet to a total stranger if they needed them, but you let a friend or loved one try to sneak a French Fry from my plate and I become stingy, greasy-fingered b*tch. Seriously. I’m horrible! It’s not like I’m going to eat all the fries, or I’m in danger of starvation, or am never going to get another French Fry.
So…why? What is it about French Fries, of all things, that bring out the absolute worst in me? What does it matter if someone gets one measly fry?
Please tell me I’m not along in my stingy fry shame. Tell me there are more of you out there. We can form a self-help group. Create our own twelve step program.

Confess in the comments and I’ll pick two winners for my latest Blaze release, THE SURVIVOR, which is on shelves now.

Special thanks to Jean, Stephanie, Kathy and Cheryl for having me here today!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Regaining Balance

Life forces us to put things in balance. That balancing act happens whether we're ready or not.

(Jean showed off some of her Halloween decorations and I thought, Scooby Dooby Do! Why not post my front door display to show how I'm restoring the balance in my life.)

Balance is a juggling act, one that entails dropping one thing for another, without upsetting the balance of the whole. You cannot have Ying without Yang, Abbott without Costello, or happiness without pain.

According to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase And Fable, A Treasury of Words That Have a Tale to Tell, by E. Cobham Brewer, Balance symbolizes 'the ancient zodiacal "Libra" constellation between Scorpio and Virgo. It's the 7th sign of the zodiac, which now contains the constellation Virgo, and which the sun enters a few days before the autumnal equinox.'

There's nothing like lunch with a friend that includes a pumpkin cookie to restore balance to the soul! Ah, balance. Heavenly day!

And in keeping with Persian mythology, balance comes at 'the Last Day. It will be a huge balance, as big as the vault of heaven, displayed. One scale pan will be called light, the other darkness. In the former, all good will be placed, in the latter, evil, and everyone will receive his award according to the verdict of balance.'

Managing time becomes critical when life is out of balance. I learned this best while experiencing severe headaches and neck pain the past two years. Now 9 weeks post-neck surgery I'm beginning to feel myself again. My love for homemaking and crafting is returning fullforce. Laughter comes easily. I'm feeling the urge to bake, create, and explore. More importantly, the clearer my mind gets, I'm rediscovering my passion for writing.

Check out this cornucopia I made to sit on top of a quilted leaf runner. Perfect balance, isn't it?

And as with any of these, skill is a practiced art that must be utilized or lost. Upsetting that balance, upsets the whole, body, mind, and spirit.

Did you sign up for NaNoWriMo, which started November 1st? The month long accountability process can be an excellent way to regain balance and structure in a writer's life. Ultimately, I didn't sign up for this 50,000 word-in-a-month challenge, but instead have concocted one of my own to squeeze out time needed to create a balance between life and writing.

What do you do to keep your life in balance?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Zombie Apocalypse - Your Government is Ready!

As I am writing this on Halloween night, I pause because the animals are acting strangely. I hear faint scratches on the front door then pounding. The door is shaking and about to give in to whoever or whatever is outside. Too afraid to get up from the computer, I peer out the window and…. ZOMBIES! All over my front lawn! What to do, what to do? I nervously wring my hands and pace the floor until I remember: the federal government has already figured this one out for me! I turn to my handy-dandy zombie handbook and relax. I am already prepared. Now all I have to do is head to the basement, barricade myself in and wait on those guys from the CDC to figure this whole mess out so I can go back to my writing (yes this is fiction – who ever heard of the government figuring something out? LOL).

Seriously, the CDC issued a Zombie preparedness document on their blog website. See: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/socialmedia/zombies_blog.asp
It is full of interesting tidbits on how to prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse. I was at first incredulous that the federal government, in a time of down-sizing and cut-backs, would waste money on making handbooks, getting a comic book written and publicizing about a possible Zombie apocalypse. But then I thought about it. This was a very smart marketing ploy to get people to be prepared in the case of an emergency, such as a hurricane or tornado. Actually it’s also kind of cute. The comic book is well done and would speak to a lot of people who would not read about emergency preparedness in any other circumstance. After all, you have to be prepared for a zombie emergency, wouldn’t you? See: http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/documents/11_225700_A_Zombie_Final.pdf This comic takes a while to download but it's fun and worth the wait.

Last April, Alabama was hit hard by a tornado outbreak that lasted all day long. Thousands were without power and basic essentials. Creating a handbook, which in reality speaks to emergency preparedness, like this is a very clever idea. Maybe more people will read this and then have the essentials in-stock if we, God forbid, ever have to live through another disaster.

Now that I am prepared, I just worry that if we were to suffer through a zombie outbreak how would I be able to identify them? We have a lot of locals around here who might be iffy…

So are you prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse? Did you have your emergency preparedness kit ready on Halloween night? Did you see any zombies? I am sure there is a link on the CDC blog to report one if you did.